Violence during Wits University protests distressing

Reports of violence, intimidation, and hate speech directed against lesbians, Jews and whites during the protests at Wits University yesterday are distressing. While the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is sensitive to the myriad serious issues facing students in this country, it is never acceptable to target minority groups and inflame hatred. According to comments and photos on Twitter, a student claims: “They strangled me, choke-slammed me, threatened me. After, they said ‘queer bodies + feminists not welcome.” In another tweet, it was noted that students were ushered out of buildings by protestors shouting: “Whites must die! Jews must die!”

Universities offer more than a formal education. They also provide opportunities for students to learn more about pluralism, tolerance, diversity and respect. The current behaviour of the protestors is dangerous, and we call on them to desist from this unacceptable prejudiced action. The SAJBD will be investigating the matter further.

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